Deadly Creatures

The scorpion contemplates the men, shovelling
I've been wanting to play Deadly Creatures since it came out way back in 2009. The premise is simple you play as a Desert hairy scorpion and a Texas brown tarantula and go about Arachnida business somewhere in the desert of the southwestern United States.

The game is fucking brilliant and also flawed, totally linear but the game drives you on just because you want to see what's next. The game is also incredibly frustrating and right up to the end, death is only ever around the corner leading to occasional rage when a checkpoint is the wrong side of an unskippable cutscene in particularly tough sections. There's some odd reusing of the same level, a particular section of which you return to on four occasions and later level design tends towards laziness with invisible walls stopping you from wandering off piste. Also jarring is the end FMV sequence which is of appallingly low quality.

Play alternates between the tarantula and the scorpion, the former is by far the best one to play with. The scorpion is tough like a tank but the tarantula has all the best moves including a long range stealth attack, that once unlocked I could use all day. You really start to think like a spider and after you unlock walking upside down (this is how evolution works in real life) you pity the sad world that we live in with our limited plane of existence and our obligate floor walking.

The game turns even the most trivial of objects into vast beautiful levels including hedges and a truck. Scattered human paraphenalia in the early levels, a discarded shoe, a garden gnome really get your imagination firing and turn humble bushes and shrubberies into makeshift cathedrals and tombs all of which is supported by a subtle but rather splendid musical score. The stand-out level is the final one, a small gas station which gives you free roam of a whole building. Compared to the levels set in the desert, various bits of scenery stop you from clambering on all the surfaces very much channelling you along one set path. There's no word of a sequel but an entire game set in human dwellings would be great.

Lastly what makes the game stick in the memory is the story and the characters. You follow two personality-less arthropods through natural environments whilst over-hearing and occasionally passing by two guys on a schlocky treasure hunt in the desert. However, the environment and the physicality of the segmented protagonists complement each other so well that they feel more fleshed out and characterful than most human video game protagonists*. Occasionally the scorpion and spider cross paths and have a scuffle but I like the way the game gently eases you forward but without forcing a motivation onto the characters. The story sort of progresses around you but you leave the game (apart from the very last section with the scorpion) still feeling like the arachnids were just going about their business and that neither of them were secretly moral or heroic. Okay so mission information somewhat shatters the illusion but with a bit more tweaking this could have been cut out altogether, with the story progressing just as you crawl, webspin and pounce your way through the linear levels from start to finish. Spider gotta do what a spider gotta do. Its something you don't see a lot in video games and somewhat refreshing.

* Yes I am begging for a Wanky award with this sentence but I'm on my period so leave me alone.


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